The Juan Requesens case, a chronology

Juan Requesens is one of the 5 parliamentarian kept in prison by the Venezuelan dictatorship. Image El Nacional

By Acceso A la Justicia

The representative of the Tachira state (Primero Justicia PJ) in the National Assembly, Juan Requesens, became part of the arbitrary actions of the Venezuelan security forces, when he was detained at his residence despite his parliamentary immunity, accused of being linked to the assassination attempt against Nicolás Maduro, incident occurred on August 4th of 2018.

Since then, Requesens has been a victim of several human rights violations. From being detained without a court order, being held isolated for almost three days and being victim of cruel treatment, including the restrictions to the legal warranties, such as a Supreme Court Justice (TSJ in Spanish) prosecute him without justify the arrest.

August 7th 2018

Officials of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) detained the representative Requesens at his parents’ residence, located in Terrazas del Club Hípico (east of Caracas), without a judicial order and in a violent manner. Accordingly with the Constitution every detained person must be brought before a judge within 48 hours of their arrest. In his case, was held responsible for being involved in the “attack” against Nicolas Maduro, allegedly having facilitated immigration contact with one of those involved in the incident. This day he was transferred to the Sebin headquarters, a building known as El Helicoide.
One of the detainees in the case, a retired sergeant of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) Juan Carlos Monasterios Vanega, is the one who accused Requesens of having obtained a contact for him to enter Colombia.

The detention was out of the rule of law and violated the parliamentary immunity preserved in Article 200 of the Constitution, which state that a representative can only be detained in the event of committing a crime in flagrancy, and also that he must be transferred to his residence, and not to a prison or at the headquarters of a state security corp.

August 8th, 2018

The Supreme Court of Justice declared the origin of the Requesens prosecution. According to the press statement published by the highest court, it was indicated that there are “sufficient elements of conviction to estimate the commission of crimes of a permanent nature” by the representative.

In the decision, the Supreme Court established his arrest as flagrant and ordered his custody to the security forces, until the fraudulent National Constituent Assembly (ANC) decided to waive his parliamentary immunity. The same day, the ANC removes the Requesens’ immunity.

August 9th 2018

The colleague PJ representative, Julio Borges, denounced that the residence of him, Requesens and the municipality councilor Julio Mira, were raided simultaneously by Sebin officials without a court order.

August 10th 2018

The Minister of Information and Communication, Jorge Rodríguez, abusing of his authority released a video from Requesens in which he states that he put one of the suspects of the attack against Nicolas Maduro in contact with an immigration agent to facilitate his entry into the country.

That same day, journalist Alberto Rodríguez released a second video of Requesens, according to him was provided by Sebin officials, where the representative was seen confused, in underwear apparently stained with feces, and without saying a word.

His relatives and the National Assembly authorities denounced cruel and inhuman treatment, as the leaked recording seeks to humiliate the parlamentarian.

August 11th 2018

President Nicolas Maduro released another extract from the video made to Requesens by Sebin, where he states that he had contact with Rayder Alexander Russo, one of those identified as the material author of the presidential attack.
That day, the hearing of Requesens was set. His lawyer, Joel García, reported that it was deferred “without a reasons.” He explained that it is usual “for some reason” to postpone a hearing, “but in that case the judge did not communicate the reason.

At that time, the lawyer indicated that he had not access to the representative or to the records of the file, evidencing that the statements taken on video of the same had been made without the assistance of a lawyer or any prove of voluntary renounce of that basic right.

August 12th 2018

Almost 100 hours after being arrested, Requesens spoke by phone with his family who claimed him as “disappeared.” According to a statement from the political party Primero Justicia, during the call he told them about his condition and made some requests for personal hygiene supplies. Despite the period given by the Constitution to present it to a court, this had not happened until that moment.

August 13th 2018

The Venezuelan ombudsman, Alfredo Ruiz, reported that Juan Requesens’ hearing was held on this day. It began several hours late, so it was postponed early the next day. The deferral of hearings has been a repeatedly violation of the rights of the detainees.

This official announced that the Ombudsman’s Office is carrying out investigations to determine if the parliamentarian was the victim of cruel and inhuman treatment, as reported by his family, who assured that the representative was being coerced by Sebin officials.

That day, the Supreme Court published the sentence of the Requesens case. The director of the non profit organization Acceso a la Justicia, Ali Daniels, stated that it does not make any mention to either the forced disappearance of the representative (who remained in lonely confinement for more than 100 hours after being arrested) or a evidence of any kind that supports the arrest without a court order.

He explained, accordingly with the sentence, the fact that a presumption of a crime in progress allows a flagrant detention. Therefore a preliminary trial was not necessary, considering the parliamentary condition of immunity of Juan Requesens. He added that the TSJ also did not give reasons for the fact that flagrancy existed, because it did not specify what the parliamentarian has to do with the crime, and why he is part of it. Daniels highlights too that the sentence omit that the Constitution (article 200) establishes that the arrest of a deputy, even in flagrancy, forces him to be transferred to his residence. Omission which represent a constitutional violation of the Supreme Court allowing an arbitrary detention and confinement at the Sebin headquarters in El Helicoide.

August 14th 2018

The hearing was postponed at 1:00 am for the same day at 2:00 pm. At the end of this first hearing, the Prosecutor’s Office had charged Requesens seven crimes: continued public instigation, homicide qualified in degree of frustration against President Maduro, homicide qualified in degree of frustration against the military of the Bolivarian National Guard, use of explosives devices, criminal association, financing of terrorism and treason.

In the afternoon the hearing was resumed. The representative attorney, Joel García, declared at the end of the meeting that a custodial order was issued and the Sebin headquarters was established as a place of detention.

Additionally was ordered “the confiscation of all his assets, as well as the freezing of accounts, prohibition of alienating and gravel any assets”. Garcia explained that the parliamentarian’s assets were placed at the order of the National Office against the Organized Crime.

Garcia reported that during the hearing Requesens declared himself as not guilty, and reportedly stated: “I‘m not guilty. Two things sustain this regime, first: the security organizations, control of the power, and second: the judicial branch that you are ”.

August 14th 2018

The lawyer for the representative, Joel Garcia, announced that Requesens’ “arbitrary” detention will be appealed, because there is no flagrancy or permanent crime attributed to him. Garcia also gave stated about what happened at the hearing, noting that the parliamentarian declared that he did not remember having made the video that has been released by the Government (in two parts) and denied the third part (video released by Nicolas Maduro as a medical and mental check). He assured that it was a Sebin official who gave him and ordered him to put on the clothes he had at that time.

The legal defense also states that both recordings were not included in the investigation, since the judge did not mention them during the hearing.

September 17th 2018

The legal defense and relatives of the parliamentarian denounced that Requesens is being subjected to psychological torture, as he remains isolated at the Sebin headquarters in El Helicoide.

October 1st 2018

The attorney Joel García reported on his Twitter account that he had access to Requesens’ file after 53 days of being arrested. He denounced that the accusation that should have been made by the maximum General Prosecutor’s Office on September 28, date on which the legal term of 45 days to accuse a detainee expired.
He assured that they were able to verify that the documented accusation was not provided to the URDD (Unit for the Reception and Distribution of Documents), so they immediately tried to request his immediate release before the court, but the court refused to receive the petition “alleging that they enabled on Friday (September 28th) only to receive the accusation” and “that was not an emergency”. Garcia points out that although they know “that it is not true that the court authorized to receive the accusation (…) the court claims to have received it.”

Representative for the Tachira state, Juan Requesens. Picture Manuel Reveron

October 11th 2018

The Inter American Commission on Human Rights issued a protective measure in favor of Requesens. The agency asked the Government “to adopt the measures needed to protect the rights to health, life and personal integrity in the context of deprivation of liberty for him, ensuring that he is not subjected to acts of violence against him ”. The Commission also requested that an independent and impartial international delegation, with competence in this matter, be allowed to get into the country to verify the circumstances in which the parliamentarian is.

This Commission urged the Government to inform, within a period of 15 days from the publication of the resolution, and the adoption of these measures.

October 27th 2018

Relatives of Requesens denounced that he requires medical attention, but at the moment
the authorities refuse to guarantee his right to health. His father, Juan Guillermo Requesens, pointed out that he has also not been allowed access to his team of lawyers.

October 30th 2018

His lawyer reported that he was taken to a hospital to treat the dental infection that he has suffered for 16 days.

November 8th 2018

Requesens’ lawyer reported that for the first time, after 93 days of arbitrary detention, the defense of the representative was allowed to access him for a period of 30 minutes

November 12th 2018

Requesens’ defense attorney reported that he was able to meet the deputy for the second time, since his arrest in August.

November 16th 2018

Orianna Granati, the Requesens’s wife, after more than a year of detention could visit him with his family.

November 25th 2018

Requesens’s lawyer reports that the court that imprisoned the representative has 104 days without legal activities.

November 26th 2018

The Court sets a preliminary hearing for December 18.

December 3rd 2018

The representative’s lawyer, indicated that after 111 days he was able to have access to the accusation of the parliamentarian, in turn that he assured that there are no elements of conviction to affirm that he is a participant in the facts that are accused.

December 18 2018

The reliminary hearing was postponed, and the court rescheduled the hearing for January 24, 2019.

January 22nd 2019

The father of Requesens reported that family visits were suspended until further notice, due to protests in Caracas.

January 24th 2019

The hearing set for this day was not held because the court did not issue a clearance order. There is also no information about the reprogramming of it.

January 28th 2019

His lawyer reported that the preliminary hearing was set for February 22, 2019.

February 22nd 2019

The preliminary hearing begins at 3.30pm, although it had been scheduled for 9.00am. The
prosecution began with the presentation of its arguments. March 8 was set for the continuation of the hearing.

March 8th 2019

The preliminary hearing of Representative Requesens was postponed, and it was rescheduled for April 1st.

April 1st 2019

The preliminary hearing is again deferred, due to lack of transfer. It was rescheduled for April 3rd.

April 3rd 2019

The representative lawyer, reported that the preliminary hearing was continued, but had to be suspended due to the lateness and electricity problems that the room presented. The continuation of the hearing was set for April 5th.

April 5nd, 2019

The preliminary hearing of Requesens was held, which was suspended at 5:00 pm to resume on April 9th at 2pm. The representative lawyer reported that the defense has not been able to make its allegations, because the Public Ministry continues to speak.

April 9th 2019

The preliminary hearing resumed at 4:00 p.m. m, and culminated at 6:00 p.m. m. The lawyer reported that the Public Ministry continues its right to speak, and the defense has not yet been able to present its arguments. It also reported that the hearing will continue on April 11 at 2:00 p.m.

April 11th 2019

It was reported that the Public Ministry continued with its argument, and again did not end with its presentation. The hearing was extended to April 16th.

April 16 2019

The executive decreed as non-working from April 14 to 19, on the occasion of Easter, consequently the continuation of the hearing could not be held.
The extension of the hearing was set for April 24.
Apr 24, 2019. The preliminary hearing continued, Requesens’s lawyer reported that the Public Ministry ended its allegations, and that at the next hearing, which will be on April 26, the floor will be given to the Attorney General’s Office.

April 26 2019

The hearing continued, but had to be suspended again for April 29.

April 29th 2019

The lawyer state out that the Public Ministry ended the allegations, and the defense began to use its arguments. The continuation of the hearing was scheduled for May 2nd.

May 2nd 2019

The continuation of the hearing could not be held, because the SEBIN did not comply with the transfer of the deputy to the Court, the hearing being deferred to May 6 at 9:00 a.m.

May 6th 2019

Once again, SEBIN failed to comply with the transfer of the representative Requesens to the Court, and the hearing had to be postponed again for May 7 at 1pm.

May 07th 2019

For the third consecutive time, SEBIN fails to comply with the transfer of Juan Requesens to the Court, and the hearing is postponed to May 22nd.

May 22nd 2019

The preliminary hearing was continued, later it was suspended to continue on May 23, 2019.

May 23rd 2019

The preliminary hearing continued, and at 4:00 p.m. it was suspended for June 4th 2019.

June 4th 2019

The preliminary hearing was postponed to June 11, 2019. No reasons provided.

June 11th 2019

The preliminary hearing was concluded, and a date was set for sentencing on July 1st, 2019.

July 1st 2019

Judge Carol Padilla passes sentence declaring all the exceptions explained by the defense as irrelevant. In this context, declares the admission of the charges imputed to the representative Requesens, keeping the imprisonment against him and orders the pass to the trial of the case.

August 7th 2019

The National Assembly representative Juan Requesens complete one year unfair incarcerated by the Nicolas Maduro regime.

November 20th 2019

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions of the United Nations Human Rights Council classified the detention of Juan Requesens as arbitrary, as it contravenes articles 9, 10, 11, 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9, 14, 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

November 25th 2019

The hearing scheduled for this day is postponed, due to a refusal of the authorities to transfer the representative to the Court. Not other explanation was provided. A new date is set for December 2nd.

December 2nd 2019

The trial against representative Juan Requesens begins, and suddenly is suspended for Wednesday, December 4th at 2.00 pm.

December 4th 2019

The trial against representative Juan Requesens begins, and suddenly is suspended for Wednesday, December 9th at 2.00 pm.

December 9th 2019

The trial against representative Juan Requesens begins, and suddenly is suspended for Wednesday, December 12th at 2.00 pm.

December 12 2019

The hearing is postponed again to December 16th 2019.

December 16 2019

The office of the High Representative for Foreign Policy of the European Union, Josep Borrell, issued a statement in which he denounced irregularities in the Requesens case, including violation of parliamentary immunity, lack of transparency and due process of law. The session is suspended and it is agreed to continue the trial for December 18th.

December 18 2019

The session is suspended and it is agreed to continue the trial for December 20th.

December 20th 2019

Juan Requesens is completing 500 days in arbitrary detention. The session is suspended and it is agreed to continue the trial for January 8th, 2020.

January 8th 2020

The session is suspended and it is agreed to continue the trial for January 14th 2020.

January 14th 2020

The session is suspended and it is agreed to continue the trial for January 22nd.

February 12 2020

After other three postponed session the trial continues, but this time it could not be carried out due to the lack of transfer of Deputy Requesens to the courts. Its continuation was planned for February 19th.

March 2nd 2020

After other two postponed sessions, this time once again the session is suspended and it is agreed to continue the trial for March 6th, 2020.
It was denounced to the media that representatives of the National Assembly and a representative of the European Union were prevented from entering the hearing.

March 6th 2020

The session is suspended and it is agreed to continue the trial for March 11th, 2020. The trial hearing has already reached 15 sessions.

March 11 2020

The session is suspended and it is agreed to continue the trial for March 16th 2020.

March 13 2020

The defense attorney for the representative Juan Requesens, fue to the sanitary emergency generated by the COVID-19, filed a request for a precautionary measure to substitute freedom, in order to guarantee the right to life and freedom. right to health of the representative.

March 29th 2020

Representative Juan Requesens has 600 days in arbitrary detention.

August 7th 2020

Two years have passed since the detention of representatives Juan Requesens. His detention has been classified as arbitrary by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. The European Union, for its part, has also denounced the irregularities committed in the trial against them.

August 11th 2020

The continuation of the illegal trial against the representative and 16 other co-defendants is set for this date. However, the hearing is postponed due to lack of transfer of the accused.

August 20th 2020

The continuation of the illegal trial against the deputy and 16 other co-defendants is set for this date. However, the hearing is deferred to August 31st.

August 28th 2020

Representative Juan Requesens receives a substitute precautionary measure from home to jail.

This chronological research was made by the Venezuelan non profit organization Acceso a la Justicia (Posted on August 28th 2020)

Translation: Xavier Rodríguez Franco